Beach Access Issues
June 16, 2008

‘Stand in the Sand’ fundraiser was another celebration of access

By IRENE NOLAN




The ball field at the Fessenden Center in Buxton never looked more festive than it did on Saturday, June 14, for the first annual “Stand in the Sand” event to raise funds to support free and open beach access.


The green of the grass on the field was enhanced by the contrast to the Carolina blue skies and the white tents, small and large, that lined the perimeter.  A large tent in the middle of the field covered the tables and chairs, set up for the folks who came to eat barbecue and visit with friends and neighbors.

Red, white, and blue balloons in big bunches fluttered in the breeze atop the light poles on the field.

Another big, white tent covered the food area, where a small army of volunteers dished out pork and chicken barbecue and side dishes that included baked beans, coleslaw, green beans, new potatoes, and macaroni and cheese. One end of the tent housed the bake sale.  Those table were covered with cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, and dessert bars – all prepared by island bakers.

The day was warm with temperatures in the 80s, but a cooling breeze helped keep folks under the tents cool.  Out in the sun, it was another story.

The music continued all day from a shaded stage, where the musicians included Honest Bill Crook, Chicamacomico, Blistered, Jones Potion, and Peer Pressure.  They all donated their services.

The event was billed as a fundraiser for the Cape Hatteras Preservation Alliance (CHAPA), an umbrella organization of beach access groups, such as the Outer Banks Preservation Association (OBPA), the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club, and the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association (NCBBA), that came together to raise money for legal fees and other expenses for the effort to keep the beaches open.

The man who conceived the event and was the chief organizer, Rob Alderman, reported that “Stand in the Sand” raised about $16,500 for CHAPA through the sales of barbecue dinners, baked goods, T-shirts, tickets for games and a raffle, and donations.

There’s no official count of how many islanders and visitors wandered through the ball field during the afternoon.  It’s safe to say there were more than 1,000 – and the count could be twice that. 

Many were islanders who came to voice their opposition to the consent decree and increased closures while they dined on great food and talked with neighbors.  However, several hundred visitors also heard about the event and decided to join in.

Among them were Carolyn and Mike Bick of Norwalk, Ohio, and their twin sons, 11-year-old Chris and Alex.  The Bicks were planning at week at her mother’s cottage in Avon, but would not have arrived until Saturday evening.  Once they found out about the barbecue, they drove all night Friday night to be there.

Mike Bick’s company, Maple City Rubber, donated the hundreds of balloons that adorned the ball field from high and low places.

Alderman started planning the “Stand in the Sand,” back in the spring, when environmental groups were asking for an injunction to close four popular areas of the seashore year-round, including Bodie Island Spit, Cape Point and South Beach, Hatteras Inlet spit, and the South Point of Ocracoke.

The months since Alderman first hatched his plan have been eventful ones for the beach access issue. A consent decree was signed by a federal judge on April 30 to settle the lawsuit by the groups.  Since then, there have been unprecedented closings of seashore beaches, including Cape Point, the most famous surf fishing spot on the East Coast.

The fundraiser was intended to make a statement on beach access by critics of the consent decree – even to protest this year’s large closures on the seashore.

However, it turned out to be a much more upbeat afternoon, almost a celebration, after North Carolina’s U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr and U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, Jr., introduced legislation in the House and Senate on June 11 to set aside the consent decree and return the management of the seashore to the National Park Service’s interim strategy for managing park resources and off-road vehicles until there is a long-term plan.

Another goal of the event was education on the beach access issue, and under tents, groups, such as the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club, NCBBA, and OBPA, handed out cards and sheets of information about contacting elected officials to support the legislation.

Under more tents, local artists and craftspeople displayed their work, along with notices that a percentage of their sales would benefit CHAPA.
 
Across the field from the information and artists’ tents were games – for the young and old – and pony rides, provided by Sylvia Mattingly of Equine Adventures. The pony rides were popular with the youngsters, as was the moon walk and the fish pond, where they cast a line for prizes.

The most popular was the dunking booth. If you tossed your ball and hit a target, the volunteer in the chair was dumped into a tank of water.  A number of folks sat in the chair, but none got more attention than Alderman, who outfitted himself for the dunk in a grass skirt, coconut shell bra over his shirt, and a bright Hawaiian lei.

Alderman is also known to his Internet and cable television fans as the “general” of the Hatteras Island Fishing Militia (www.fishmilitia.com) and the host of a popular TV show, “The Outer Banks Angler.”


He was indeed the general on Saturday.  He was everywhere – from sunup to sundown.  Early in the morning, he was helping to set up games and tents and just before the sunset, he and a couple other volunteers were using a chainsaw to dismantle the stage.  He left to run errands and then returned to shout out more instructions to his large force of volunteers – about 75 to 80 of them, he figures.  The volunteers cooked and baked and barbecued and served.  They ran the games and the raffle, ran errands, sold tickets, answered questions, and set up and knocked down the tents and tables.

Lynne Murray of Frisco was a “major” in Alderman’s volunteer army.

“The volunteers, including quite a few off-islanders whom I had never met before worked so very hard,” Murray said. “I filled in on the food line to give them a break to eat or rest but most just kept on going.  I can't thank them enough for all that they did. There's no way I can name each and everyone, but they were some super awesome people. Many worked 12 hours."

Murray recalled several special moments from the day.

When she was handing out drinks, a man from Richmond, Va., passed by and donated five gallons of mint tea, along with cups.

“I didn't get his name,” Murray said, “but let me tell you that it was the best tea I have ever tasted. I had three cups. What super folks to do that and donate that for us.”
 
One of the donations that touched Murray the most was a cake for the bake sale that was made by Skippie Frisby of Buxton.

“She's almost 86 and blind but a steadfast believer in the cause, and she made the most awesome lemon cake.  It had the sand and the sea and the sky with a special message, 'IF UNITED WE STAND, THEN UNITED WE PREVAIL.'  The cover over the cake had two red-white-and blue pinwheels going full speed.” 
 
She also remembers a moment from the end of the event.

“When I was cleaning up, I saw the cutest kid with icing smeared over his face, but the coolest thing was the balloon that was attached to his sandals. I was about to pull that balloon when I realized it was tied to his foot!”  

Rob Alderman spent Sunday tallying up the funds that the event raised and tying up some loose ends.  His voice was so hoarse, he could barely talk on the phone, which some folks noted wasn’t an altogether bad thing.

He noted that he could never list all of the businesses, islanders, and off-islanders who contributed to the event, volunteered, and donated.

He did, though, want to single out Johnny Conner of Conner’s Supermarket in Buxton, which donated much of the food, along with equipment and other supplies.  Alderman noted that Conner was at the field from early morning until late evening and that he “could outwork any three 20-year-olds.”

Many businesses on and off Hatteras Island contributed to the event. The major contributors included Conner’s Supermarket, Pepsi, Outer Banks Motel, Metro Rentals, Hatteras Realty, Outer Beaches Realty, Midgett Realty, The Inn on Pamlico Sound, Herbie Lures, Finnegan’s Dining Haul, Ocean Atlantic Rentals, East Carolina Radio, and Dare Building.





Slide show produced by Rob Alderman
Photos by Don Bowers (with contributions from Rob Alderman and Holly West)
 

 





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